Is Mass Deployment a Better Approach to Retail Network Security?

As the shopping experience becomes more personal, network security has become an increasingly complex challenge for today's retailers. Recently, JC Penney and Burberry announced their plans to equip sales staff with iPads. Loyalty programs are now facilitated across sophisticated point-of-sale terminals. Credit card transactions are processed on a multitude of devices.
While this is great for the overall customer experience, the security threats that accompany these advancements are staggering. The unfortunate fact is while a retailer's headquarters may have the right network security infrastructure in place, the individual stores and the technologies they use represent a major liability in the exchange of information across the broader organization.
It's important to note that retailers have done their best with the resources available to them to secure multiple locations. Until recently, network security technology has been limiting, thus making network security something that must be executed by dispatching IT staff to the store. The IT team, already overburdened managing the day-to-day of help desk and systems administration, must also monitor, manage and deploy firewalls and other network devices. In this scenario, support personnel can spend more time traveling between stores just to keep security patches up to date and services running than they spend proactively identifying security threats and preventing attacks. At the end of the day, store security suffers. The focus is too much on the individual store rather than protecting the overall enterprise.
So, what's the solution? Recent advancements in cloud technology are tackling this challenge head-on. By leveraging cloud computing, today's retailers now have access to a mass deployment approach for the installation and management network security devices across multiple stores.
Using this approach and the network security technology that supports it, retailers can deploy and manage these devices without dispatching IT resources. Mass deployment combines cloud-based security configuration with plug-and-play installation. A shop clerk only needs to plug in a device for it to access an installation cloud that automatically configures the device and connects it to a centralized management console at headquarters. From that point, network administrators have access to real-time security monitoring, logging and event and log correlation across all network devices (including virtual and third-party devices).
With mass deployment, retailers don't actually need to assign or dispatch any IT personnel to individualize store locations. With plug-and-play installation, they drastically minimize the necessary configuration steps and traveling time of IT resources. At the same time, they're able to speed up large security deployments, updates and routine maintenance. Finally, a mass cloud-based deployment approach to security enables retailers to identify the security threats and incidents that are trending at a macro level rather than being held hostage to the micro level.
In the past, network security has been diluted by the constraints of IT servicing the store level. Today, that's no longer the case. Leveraging cloud-based services, mass security and centralized management makes securing and managing 1,000 retail locations just as simple as it is for one.
Matt McKinley is U.S. director of product management with Stonesoft.

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